PORTLAND, Ore. – Jack Jewsbury has been there, done that.
But for the MLS veteran, who is entering his 11th season and third with the Portland Timbers, there was added excitement for the Timbers’ first training session of 2013. Call it an eagerness to impress the new boss.
Yes, finally, the Timbers got to train under manager Caleb Porter, who was hired last summer but only recently took the reins.
“You hear great things about him, but until you actually get to be here and hear the information coming from his mouth, you always kind of wonder what we’re going to be doing,” Jewsbury said. “I think, as expected, today there was a lot of stuff about possession. He’s a possession-orientated guy, so that’s what he expects from his team.”
On a cold, clear morning at JELD-WEN Field, Porter led the squad through a number of different drills and eight-on-eight scrimmages. Porter said it was a good first session and that he was pleased with the fitness level of the players as he begins to implement his system.
“Initially some of the drills are going to be different perhaps, so there’s always going to be learning curve when you’re learning new drills,” he said. “But I thought it got better as we went along, and there’s some good quality out there.”
Notably, two players still technically on the roster were not at the first training session: forward Kris Boyd and midfielder Franck Songo’o, both high-profile acquisitions during the John Spencer regime. Porter, who has made it clear that Boyd would likely not be with the club in 2013, said only that the team is “working through” their situations.
But other players acquired in the offseason did train, including Argentine midfielder Diego Valeri, former Toronto forward Ryan Johnson, former RSL midfielder Will Johnson, and former SKC defender Michael Harrington. Also present was Ryan Miller, an outside back who the team announced Monday had been signed from Sweden’s Halmstads BK.
“I’ve been waiting five months for this,” Porter said. “I’m the most alive when I’m in the locker room and on the field. Without those two things I have no identity, so it was great to be back on the field and really to get to know some of the guys and get to work with them.”
Porter said he met with the players before the morning session and imparted his plans for the season and beyond.
“We’re going to have very clear goals and a vision of what we’re going to do and a methodology of how we’re going to do it,” he said. “I talked about the power of our team and that we all need to stay on board with each other, and at any level that’s important to get the locker room right and the culture right.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.